Author Topic: Charles Ives  (Read 57996 times)

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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #480 on: March 13, 2017, 04:25:59 AM »
I found -- and still very much find -- that the music of Ives does not lend itself to recording at all. Not, at least, when the initial appreciation hasn't taken place.
It's so dependent on space and subtle perception of musics intertwining, that I find most of this gets lost via a stereo. Perhaps, presumably high definition surround sound would do Ives really well, but lacking that, try to seek out any concert experience with Ives on the program that you can, if you want to have an easier time really digging his work.

I can affirm this, from the BSO's performance of the Fourth Symphony a few seasons back; an entirely different order of experience!
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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #481 on: March 13, 2017, 07:22:39 AM »
Thanks for these responses! I had assumed that as Ives' 1st symphony is written in a largely late-Romantic idiom, the recurrence of themes in the finale would be done in a fairly traditional way. Karl has explained in the thread in the introductions section of the forum that that's not the case, and that it's more a case of the themes being mashed up together in, as he put it, "glorious chaos". That would certainly make them a heck of a lot harder to spot!

I hadn't considered that a stereo recording could well struggle to accurately capture various themes/strands of music intertwining without losing a lot of the detail. Hyperion's sound on this CD sounds very good, as their releases usually are, but there must be limits to how much subtle detail can be captured and accurately reproduced.

The analysis of The Unanswered Question was very intriguing. Some of the more technical bits are beyond my limited knowledge of music theory, but I get the basic point regarding the lack of synthesis in Ives' music. I've just ordered a cheap second hand copy of a CD conducted by Tilson Thomas which includes the original and revised versions. Should be interesting! 


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #482 on: March 13, 2017, 10:53:46 AM »
Thanks for these responses! I had assumed that as Ives' 1st symphony is written in a largely late-Romantic idiom, the recurrence of themes in the finale would be done in a fairly traditional way. Karl has explained in the thread in the introductions section of the forum that that's not the case, and that it's more a case of the themes being mashed up together in, as he put it, "glorious chaos". That would certainly make them a heck of a lot harder to spot!

I hadn't considered that a stereo recording could well struggle to accurately capture various themes/strands of music intertwining without losing a lot of the detail. Hyperion's sound on this CD sounds very good, as their releases usually are, but there must be limits to how much subtle detail can be captured and accurately reproduced.

The analysis of The Unanswered Question was very intriguing. Some of the more technical bits are beyond my limited knowledge of music theory, but I get the basic point regarding the lack of synthesis in Ives' music. I've just ordered a cheap second hand copy of a CD conducted by Tilson Thomas which includes the original and revised versions. Should be interesting!

Glad you enjoyed that analysis of The Unanswered Question. I felt it was expertly done. A big thumbs up for that MTT recording. This particular recording also contains the Holidays Symphony and Central Park in the Dark which are both bonafide masterpieces IMHO. A great choice.
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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #483 on: March 13, 2017, 12:38:01 PM »

I hadn't considered that a stereo recording could well struggle to accurately capture various themes/strands of music intertwining without losing a lot of the detail. Hyperion's sound on this CD sounds very good, as their releases usually are, but there must be limits to how much subtle detail can be captured and accurately reproduced.


It's not even about good sound or not. It simply is no comparison, I find. Just take the unanswered question. The sound of "from behind and far away" simply doesn't happen on a stereo. Nor does the multiplicity of sounds going in seemingly all kinds of directions. Your ears can focus very differently in concert, also because they work in connection with your eyes. (You hear things you see that you wouldn't otherwise, for example [different composer, but Bruckner's double bass pizzicati in the 5th are an example; if they were recorded as they are played in concert, you'd never hear them.) And with Ives there's tons of that going on. I feel that to do Ives justice on recording, apart from using surround sound, one would almost have to make a radio-collage a la Glenn Gould out of it. In any case, you'd be surprised what a difference it makes in this composer (ditto Stockhausen, for many things; certainly Maurizio Kagel who doesn't really make sense on CD but will, in concert). Good sound, bad sound, live, CD, LP: In Beethoven it's more or less the same. Not really, but for all practical purposes, on most occasions, for most people. With Ives, I've learned the long, hard, eventually very sweet way how much of a game-changer it really is.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #484 on: March 13, 2017, 01:05:43 PM »
While it’s true, recording engineers can’t capture all Ives’ music even in surround sound, this, however, doesn't take away from the experience of what a great pair of headphones and superb sounding recording can offer the listener. Hearing Ives’ music live has long been a dream of mine, but, unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to hear the music in concert, so I’m stuck with my limited means of listening to it.
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Offline Leo K.

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Charles Ives
« Reply #485 on: March 15, 2017, 07:15:57 AM »
I've never heard Ives in concert and I'm not in a city that plays him. I'd have to live in New York probably. That said, I live by my recorded collection and don't miss concerts. For example, Mahler's 7 sounds better on recordings than live in concert. Don't know why!


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Offline PerfectWagnerite

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #486 on: March 15, 2017, 07:27:45 AM »
I've never heard Ives in concert and I'm not in a city that plays him. I'd have to live in New York probably. That said, I live by my recorded collection and don't miss concerts. For example, Mahler's 7 sounds better on recordings than live in concert. Don't know why!

Regarding Mahler's 7th, the one time I heard it live the mandolin and guitar players were sitting behind the last stand of the first violin - not a really prominent place nor one sonically preferred I would think. That might have something to do with it.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #487 on: March 15, 2017, 07:28:18 AM »
I've never heard Ives in concert and I'm not in a city that plays him. I'd have to live in New York probably. That said, I live by my recorded collection and don't miss concerts. For example, Mahler's 7 sounds better on recordings than live in concert. Don't know why!

Good to see you’re still kicking around, Leo. :) Yes, it’s certainly a luxury to have so many great recordings at our disposal.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #488 on: March 18, 2017, 08:33:19 PM »
Orchestral Set No. 2



Charles Ives did not intend for his Orchestral Set No. 2 to be a follow-up to the famous first set, Three Places in New England. His notes indicate that by 1911 he'd completed the first two movements, and that the third was written in the fall of 1915. The finished grouping of these three movements wasn't assembled until 1919, whereas Three Places was put together around 1914. Ives' Orchestral Set No. 2 premiered under Morton Gould in Chicago in 1967.

The Orchestral Set No. 2 is scored for a very large orchestra and chorus, rivaling the scale of the Fourth Symphony. The first movement, entitled "An Elegy to Our Forefathers," was originally conceived as an "Overture to Stephen Foster" and undertaken around 1909. It includes quotations from such familiar Foster fare as "Old Black Joe" and "Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground," but also snatches of African American spirituals such as "Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen." Bathed in dark hues of thick, mysterious orchestral color, this movement is the most touching of Ives' forays into African American song. Conductor Leopold Stokowski attempted to point up this element of the work by asking composer Hershy Kay to add a unison chorus to this movement in 1970. While the added choral part doesn't sound out of place in this context, Ives never intended it, and this addition has to be considered spurious.

The second movement, "The Rockstrewn Hills Join in the People's Outdoor Meeting" is based on the Four Ragtime Dances of 1902; some of the same material also appears in the fourth movement of the First Piano Sonata. This piece is a full throttle, no-holds-barred send-up of ragtime rhythm; it contains some of Ives' most trenchantly dissonant writing for the strings and brass in the center section. Bells ring in the climax, consisting of a wonderfully sour rendering of "Bringing in the Sheaves" before the music quiets back down. Despite the outdoor setting indicated by the title, this is urban music -- big and ugly.

The final piece, "From Hanover Square North, at the End of a Tragic Day, the Voice of the People Again Arose" memorializes an event that occurred on a train platform in New York City on Friday, May 7, 1915. Ives records in his Memos how the atmosphere on that day was thick with apprehension at the news that a German Submarine had torpedoed the Lusitania, meaning war was imminent. As Ives waited along with a crowd at the Third Avenue "El," "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" broke out among some of the workers, and soon the whole crowd picked it up. As the train arrived, the magic remained; no one spoke, and some were still singing the tune while boarding. In Ives' score, he utilizes the large orchestral forces at his disposal and unison chorus to perfectly capture the tension and claustrophobia of this scene.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

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Following on the heels of the Ives of March celebrations that aren’t happening on GMG (where are you, Greg?), I thought I’d post this write-up about one of my favorite Ives works: Orchestral Set No. 2. For me, the whole work feels like I’ve just entered a drug-induced dreamworld full of flickering lights and shadow lurkers. It would take someone an entire book to analyze this work, so I possibly couldn’t begin to pick apart all of the strands of music that exist in it. My favorite performance comes from Tilson Thomas conducting the Concertgebouw. Sinclair also has an excellent recording with the Malmo SO on Naxos.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2017, 08:35:30 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline α | ě Ć ń

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #489 on: March 23, 2017, 05:47:00 PM »
Oh Ives <3



The songs in particular give me a particular warm, hearty feeling; so do Gershwin's songs, Mahler's Lieder and also some of Shubert's Lieder.

Ives seems to tap into an aesthetic and weird cross between spiritual, sentimental and cultural spots that I haven't seen elsewhere:
It's the songs of workers, churches, fields, factories, childhood, nostalgia, sailors, circus clowns, historical events etc, that seem very unified as something much bigger. There seems to be a general theme about finding happiness in a very weird, monotonous and very sinister world.

His songs have a very uplifting quality, they're amazing. So, obviously this is one of the many things that make him one of my favorite early 20th century composers.


In reality though, there are so many innovative composers throughout both halves of the XX Century that I won't try to create a hierarchy there but Ives done some crazy stuff for the first time! (like many others in other areas)  :D :D :D :D

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #490 on: March 29, 2017, 06:59:03 AM »
Well as The Ives Of March draws to a close, we Ivesians are proud to bring aboard hopefully a newly converted member: Rafael (ritter). 8) Let’s hope he continues to the explore this incredible composer’s music. May I suggest the Concord Sonata (preferably the Aimard recording), the SQs, and the violin sonatas (preferably the Fulkerson/Shannon set on the Bridge label).
"Competitions are for horses, not artists.” - Béla Bartók

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #491 on: March 29, 2017, 07:28:02 AM »
A Symphony: New England Holidays



Referring to his New England Holidays, an assemblage of four orchestral works written between 1903 and 1913, Ives stated that "they are separate pieces and can be thought of and played as such. These four together were called a symphony, and later just a set of pieces...." Taking a jab at critics who were appalled at his brash style, Ives further explained his reasons for viewing the work in this way: "I was getting somewhat tired of hearing the lily boys say 'This is a symphony? Mercy!'" Like so many of Ives' works, New England Holidays finds its inspiration in nostalgic recollections of the composer's childhood. Each of the four constituent tone poems takes as its title a different holiday that evoked for the composer memories with specific musical associations.

The first movement, "Washington's Birthday," portrays a midwinter barn dance, complete with strains of "Turkey in the Straw" and "Camptown Races." In his own notes that accompany the score, Ives describes it thus: "The village band of fiddles, fife and horn keep up an unending 'break-down' medley, and the young folks 'salute their partners and balance corners' till midnight; --as the party breaks up, the sentimental songs of those days are sung half in fun, half seriously, and with the inevitable 'adieu to the ladies' the 'social' gives way to the grey bleakness of the February night.”

The second movement, "Decoration Day," recalls the holiday once set aside to honor Civil War veterans (since replaced by Memorial Day). After the crowd gathers at the square, the processional embarks for the cemetery to the tune of "How Firm a Foundation." The assembly's arrival at its destination is marked by the playing of "Taps," combined with strains of "Nearer My God to Thee." This somber moment is contrasted by the peppy parade back into town, accompanied by Ives' raucous reinterpretation of the "Second Connecticut National Guard March.”

The third movement, "The Fourth of July," calls for various pyrotechnic feats on the part of the orchestra. Ives' impression of this holiday takes shape as a complicated combination of well-known marches and tunes as well as newly composed material, offset by odd beats and assembled into a spirited, mischievous whole. Characteristically, Ives makes use of much nineteenth century musical material with patriotic associations: "Yankee Doodle," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean," and "Battle Cry of Freedom," all make prominent appearances during this schizophrenic, multilayered celebration.

"Thanksgiving," which brings New England Holidays to a close, attempts, as Ives explains, to portray "the sternness and strength and austerity of the Puritan character" in its stubborn polytonality and forceful texture. Though "Thanksgiving" makes reference to several hymns, one in particular receives added emphasis in a setting for chorus. As the movement reaches its climax, the voices exclaim: "Oh God, beneath Thy guiding hand our exiled fathers crossed the sea; and when they trod the wintry strand, with prayer and psalm the worshipped Thee.”

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

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Certainly one of Ives’ most startling yet mesmerizing works. This work sounds like it could have been titled A Symphony: New England Seasons as much as it using the word ‘Holidays’ as the piece takes us on an aural tour through all four seasons in typical Ivesian fashion. For those who haven’t watch Tilson Thomas’ Keeping Score documentary on this work then please run, don’t walk, over to Amazon and pick up the DVD (or Blu-ray). This documentary helped cement my fascination and admiration of this symphony. Of course, MTT with the Chicago SO would be my first-choice in terms of recorded performances. Sinclair offers a fine alternative performance, although his Holidays are spread out and not grouped together, which was what Ives later in life preferred. Rafael, if you’re reading this, Holidays is right up your alley after having your ears assaulted by his Symphony No. 4.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2017, 07:32:34 AM by Mirror Image »
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Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #492 on: March 29, 2017, 07:45:08 AM »
"the lily boys" . . . love it.  Best description of James yet  0:)
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Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #493 on: March 29, 2017, 07:57:10 AM »
"the lily boys" . . . love it.

A-yep"I don't write music for sissy ears." ~ Charles Ives.
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #494 on: March 29, 2017, 08:36:27 AM »
A-yep"I don't write music for sissy ears." ~ Charles Ives.

 :P
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Offline Leo K.

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Charles Ives
« Reply #495 on: May 06, 2017, 10:43:41 AM »
Ives is such a life inspiration I gave my newborn son the middle name Ives.


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Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #496 on: May 06, 2017, 11:08:44 AM »
Ives is such a life inspiration I gave my newborn son the middle name Ives.


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Nice!  8)

Offline millionrainbows

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #497 on: May 06, 2017, 11:48:30 AM »
This is rather unassuming cover art for such a crucial disc. This also contains the short works cond. by Gunther Schuller, originally on LP called "Calcium Light Night."



Here is the original LP cover:


Offline Leo K.

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« Reply #498 on: May 08, 2017, 04:11:02 AM »
This is rather unassuming cover art for such a crucial disc. This also contains the short works cond. by Gunther Schuller, originally on LP called "Calcium Light Night."



Here is the original LP cover:



I definitely prefer the the LP cover art!


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Offline Leo K.

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« Reply #499 on: May 08, 2017, 04:14:08 AM »


This one is still one of my favorite LP covers.


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